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Dear Joanna,

We didn’t get to see you blossom with pregnancy and ogle at baby pictures since your other children were all pre-Fixer Upper, but the world is beyond excited for this new little Gaines member!


And let me say, just one Instagram post into getting to watch your journey and we can already tell how adorable you will be rocking that baby bump. We are obsessed. In the absolute best way possible.

I thought I’d write, heart-to-heart, as a mom of five myself, about what to expect when baby Gaines arrives.

To others, having four children seems like a normal “big” family size, and then by having a fifth—people may wonder if we are a tad bit crazy to add another.

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Maybe we are, maybe we’re not. Where many stop, we dare to keep going. And it can definitely be wild and loud and hectic. But the little known truth is that having five children is magical.

For me, number five brought about another layer of confidence and grace—even if that means the confidence to ask for help when I need it.

The truth is, mothering five is not much different than four.

Take what you are doing now and just add another plate at your farmhouse table, another car seat in the van and another sweet voice that calls you "Mommy." There's magic in the fact that we're well seasoned at this calling and not much can throw us off our motherhood game.

We’ve done the sleepless nights, the sickness rounds and figured out how to balance the needs of the various (and often simultaneous) cries. Most importantly, you know how to reach deep for that extra dose of patience when the crew gets rowdy (including Chip!).

Is it always easy? You know it isn’t. But is it worth it? You know it is.

Four kids is loud, five is another notch higher. It can be pure chaos sometimes, as you already know, but that noise is also evidence of the abundant blessings running through your home. It is all about the perspective we take.

It may blow some people’s minds that you want to add another to your family, trust me, I know not everyone will understand. I get the comments at every grocery store line, too. While you have a gaggle of humans around your shopping cart, people can’t resist the urge of saying how full your hands are. And they are! But in the best way possible, filled with tiny fingers and hands to hold.

It is such a blessing to be able to experience this motherhood season over and over again.

Getting to pull out old baby clothes that once fit your oldest (unless you cleverly packed them all away!), feeling the familiar butterfly kicks once more, the excitement of the new baby’s arrival and seeing which sibling they may favor most. The real magic, though, is watching the siblings bond with the baby.

There is nothing like watching your 11-year-old care for the baby almost as if he's their own. Or, the way your 7-year-old can make the baby laugh like no other! The moments of them caring for one another, the sparkle in their eyes as they play and watching your them build a solid relationship foundation make all the chaotic moments worth it.

These are little glimpses of perfection and a true gift—these moments are there to remind us why we have the big family that we do.

And your other children will love being helpers.

I hear families with large age gaps may feel like they are “starting all over” in a sense, but you've got the wonderful advantage of having many big helper siblings this time around. I just know your children’s excitement and your family's value of working together will make your transition to a family of seven an easy one.

One of my favorite parts of mothering five children, is training and watching my children become a team to accomplish something together—and we’ve seen how you instill that in your children, too. (Now, just make sure they take care of their mama, too, so you can get some rest after birth!)

You, Joanna, have shown the world how amazing you are at balancing family life and your (amazing) work, or knowing when to step back. And while we are on the topic of work—remember to keep holding onto the pieces of you that make you unique and that bring you fulfillment—the parts that hold your creativity and joy.

Mothering five is true magic—which may not logically make sense to some because we’re continually giving more of ourselves (and our money, people always ask about the money!) away to little people around us—we are actually gaining even more in return.

While raising a big family is extremely hard work and, at times, extremely loud with the squabbling or squealing—it is beyond fulfilling and joyful. It is much like having four children, but there is just more of everything. More laughter, more work, more tears, more laundry, more messes, more happiness, and of course, lots more love.

I, along with the rest of the world, are rooting for you and excited for you to embark on this continuation of your motherhood journey.

You’ve got this.

Love,

A fellow mama of five

Happy half-birthday! Can you believe it was only six months ago that your baby's schedule consisted of just sleeping and eating? Now, your happy buddy is probably working on a whole new repertoire of skills.

Although the cake will have to wait, this milestone can be celebrated with your baby's first bites of solid food. Just be sure to keep the camera ready as your little one gets more mashed avocado on their face than in their mouth.

Now that they're ready to sit in a high chair, it's time to envision all of the family meals to come. This makes right now a great time to start thinking about the dinner rituals you hope to create… and upgrade your dining space to match those dreams.

As you round the corner on your little one's first year, here's what we suggest adding to the shopping list:

Never fear the messy bites: Cloud Island bibs

Cloud Island Bibs

It's a pretty successful meal if approximately half of the food ends up in your 6-month-old's mouth. Make sure the other half doesn't end up on their clothes by stocking up on bibs that are easy to wash.

$9.99

Make room at the table: Graco Floor2Table high chair

Graco High Chair

Feeding your baby requires your full attention, so it's generally best to do it before or after your own mealtime. But it's still nice to include your baby at family dinner with their own seat at the table. It won't be long before they ask you to pass the mashed potatoes!

$149.99

For those first bites of “real food”  Beaba training spoons

Beaba

After a lifetime of only drinking from a bottle and/or breast, eating from a utensil has to feel like a major adjustment. Help your baby warm up to this new way of eating with a supply of baby-sized spoons.

$19.00

For mastering the art of baby food prep: Baby Brezza food processor

Baby Brezza

Good news: There are no advanced culinary skills required to make baby food. By steaming and pureeing their first meals, you can take charge of what foods and flavors you introduce.

$99.99

For last-minute mealtime: Happy Baby pouches

Happy Baby

Let's be honest: It can feel miraculous to get one meal on the table, let alone two separate ones. When you want or need a simpler option, it's nice to have a stockpile of convenient, healthy baby food pouches.

$6.49

For the splatter zone: Bumpkins splat mat

Bumpkins splat mat

As your baby begins eating, prepare to be amazed by all of the places you'll find traces of pureed sweet potatoes. This makes it a perfect time to swap out your dining room rug for an easy-to-clean option.

$19.39

For easy family meals: Instant Pot Duo Nova

Instant pot

When there are only so many hours in the day, the less time you can spend cooking and cleaning up afterward the better. There's a reason this is called an 'instant' pot—it'll free up so much precious time for you to spend with your family.

$119.99

For greenery without the commitment: Project 62 artificial plant

Project 62

We love including greenery in our home decor, but when you're busy enough keeping the people in your house alive, the last thing you need is a houseplant to water. Thankfully, today's faux plant options look so convincing that no one will know the difference.

$7.99

For counting all those steps: Fitbit Inspire activity tracker

Fit bit

Between walking and lifting that growing babe, you've been exercising this whole time without even realizing it, mama! Give yourself a boost of confidence by realizing how much movement you clock on a daily basis.

$99.95

For nighttime reading: Threshold table lamp 

threshold lamp

After months of tip-toeing around your own bedroom so you don't wake a sleeping baby, it's slightly thrilling to reclaim the space as your baby transitions to their own bedroom. This is a perfect time to start a new bedtime reading routine—complete with a stylish bedside lamp.

$44.99

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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